Hannah Hoch was making work about gender and femininity before it was cool. More specifically, during the era of Dada in Berlin.
-Hannah Hoch, Grotesque, 1963-
I’m not the biggest fan of photomontage, but I really admire Hannah Hoch’s work, especially since it was very much ahead of its time. She managed to be the only woman “accepted” into the Dada circle in the early 1900’s. Apparently, a bone of contention was that her work wasn’t “political” enough. Not surprising for a boy’s club to fail to recognize how overtly political exploring gender performance and sexual identity is. Her work predates the use of the phrase “the personal is political” by the feminist movement by about 40 years.
-Hannah Hoch, Dompteuse, 1930.-
Imagine that! A work that embraces an androgynous gaze. Sometimes when studying art, as a woman, it can get a bit annoying to look at work after work that I can consciously recognize wasn’t made with the expectation that I (or someone like me) would ever look at it. It’s assuming that I’m a (straight) male. I can only handle so many Olympia-style, reclined, Venus nudes. Hey Bro, I painted this hot naked chick for you to look at! That’s the dominance of the male gaze, folks. And it’s refreshing to learn about people like Hannah Hoch, who directly challenged this gender bias in art, before it was “cool” to do so.